Mr. G - Stress-related Digestive Health

Mr G. is a 59 year old self employed man who enjoys winter sports, but does not actively exercise on a daily or weekly basis.  As a widower he cooks for himself in the evenings after a full day at work.  He came for a consultation for two main reasons:  low libido and feelings of sluggishness.  His third priority within the consultation was for hay fever that he has suffered from since his mid teens and which usually comes on in March, but for the last two years has started in January.

When taking a full case history, it became apparent that Mr G’s lack of wellness was related to his digestive health.  Mr G. marked his general state of health on the MYMOP as “7”.  The main reason for this mark was a general state of sluggishness and the fact that he suffered from indigestion and some heartburn when eating spicy and or savory foods.  He was taking Nexium (Esomeprazole – a Proton Pump Inhibitor) stopping the production of stomach acid, and in addition when suffering heartburn or indigestion, over-the-counter anti-acids such as Gaviscon and Rennies.   Mr G. explained that stress tends to bring on constipation, leading to discomfort and further sluggishness.  Also reported suffering stress related dyspepsia and high blood pressure, for which he was taking medication.

He eats once a day in the evening and has a meal usually of either fish or chicken with salad and/or several fresh vegetables always with a bottle of dry white wine.  He drinks 2-4 mugs of tea and/or coffee throughout the day when visiting clients.  May also drink unsweetened cranberry or orange juice.  He recently started smoking and enjoys 3-6 cigarettes usually in the evening as a method of relaxing.  He very seldom drinks water and in general is aware that he eats too much in the evening. 

Work stress can cause him sleepless nights.   Whilst easily able to fall asleep he wakens several times.  Tends to go to bed at midnight and get up around 10am.  To get back to sleep he would watch different things on his ipad.  On waking in the morning, does not feel refreshed.  In general feels fatigued and if needed, will take a nap in the afternoon.

On considering all the symptoms that Mr G. was presenting with, I decided the principles of treatment to be as follows:

  • Improve digestion especially the process of elimination
  • Support the liver to ensure effective functioning
  • Improve energy levels and address fatigue

All aspects were addressed through herbs in tincture form as well as a separate tea made up of a mix of dried herbs that he can drink throughout the day to replace coffee.

Naturopathic advice included: 

  • Drink a minimum of six glasses of water daily beginning the day with a glass of hot water with the juice of half a lemon. 
  • Take 1 dessertspoon of apple cider vinegar before eating.
  • Whilst I did not suggest he cut down alcohol this is clearly required.  As is stopping smoking.
  • Eat before 8pm and chew slowly and mindfully, allowing time for digestion before going to bed.
  • Add Epsom salts to his nightly bath.
  • Be in bed by 11pm and avoid using electronic equipment in the bedroom.

The client was also prescribed Vitamin D3+K as he tested low through kinesiology for both these vitamins.

In the follow up appointment five weeks later Mr G. reported feeling more energetic and less stressed.  He explained that he was “feeling physically and emotionally better and not so worn out.”  His sleep had improved and he had stopped needing the alarm clock to wake up, as he was seldom waking during the night, and overall getting a better quality night’s sleep.    Reflux had seldom occurred during the five weeks and his toilet habit was more regular, mostly once daily.  Of his own volition he had also cut the amount of alcohol he was drinking by about 30%, which was a big step for Mr G. Overall the client was confident that his energy levels were going in the right direction and was motivated to continue. 

Herbal tincture prescribed followed the same principles of treatment as in the first consultation, with a few small alterations to the tincture.

Approximately five weeks later the client came for a further follow up.  This turned out to be the last consultation as Mr G. reported feeling full of energy, getting good sleep, less stressed and as a consequence his libido had returned.  Marking the MYMOP at “10” it was agreed that he make any further appointments as and when needed.  The last herbal tincture included adaptogenic, digestive and nervine herbs to continue to support the adrenal and nervous systems. 

Throughout the treatments the client was also prescribed several orchid essences to take between appointments.  These not only work on the physical but also work on the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing.  This particular client resonated very well with the orchid essences and found they helped him address issues with his work partner and move things forward due to a clearer more focused perspective.

In summary, Mr G. predominantly had poor digestive health, which in my understanding was caused not only by his diet, eating habits and lack of water, but when combined with a stressful lifestyle, and poor sleep hygiene was impacting his gut-brain axis. Slowing everything down through adaptogenic, digestive and nervine herbs helped him manage stressful events more easily.   By supporting the liver and the digestive tract this soothed and healed, resulting in him being more able to take things in his stride. This change, took the pressure off his digestive system, improving regularity, decreasing acid reflux, improving absorption and resulting in overall increased energy, libido and a renewed appreciation for life.

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